© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated

Speed River Track and Field Club of Guelph, Ontario have recently recruited three athletes that plan to compete at their highest possible level after having graduated from their respective universities in 2014. They are Barry Britt, Jacob Scott and the third of three interviews is with Fort Erie, Ontario’s Jeremy Rae.

The 23-year-old middle-distance runner competed for the University of Notre Dame. During his first three years, he showed great promise having run very well as a freshman, sophomore and junior and into his fourth year. As a senior he was on a roll until he ran into injuries late in the cross-country season, where he had to pull out of the NCAA Championships.

He was named all-Big East Runner of the Week after finishing in third place during the Big East 8k cross-country championships, while Notre Dame finished third as a team at that event. He also received the honour of being named the Big East Runner of the Week after finishing in sixth place in the five mile Blue Race at the annual 2013 Notre Dame Invitational.

Rae ran well during the outdoor track season, coming back from injury that kept him out of the indoor season. During outdoors he qualified for the NCAA national championship after winning the 1500m event at the Big East Outdoor Championships in the time of 3:47.76. Rae also qualified for the 2013 Kazan, Russia World University Games (FISU) in the 1,500m distance, where he won a silver medal.

Personal bests:

800m – 1:49.15
1500 meters – 3:38.29
Mile (indoors) – 3:57.25
5,000m – 13:59.32

Christopher Kelsall: Your 1500m through 5,000m times are a little faster than your 800m, how much time did you give the 800m before you moved up?

Jeremy Rae: One problem with the NCAA season is that you often don’t have the luxury to run off-distances because the season is so short. I’d run the 800 to open my seasons, but then would have to focus on qualifying for regionals and nationals in the 1500 and mile. My PB in the 800 is still from January of my second year, although I’m sure if I would have gotten into an 800m at the end of last summer I would have taken it down by a second or two.

CK: What was the racing and training environment like at Notre Dame University?

JR: I loved my time at Notre Dame. I was fortunate to have helped the team qualify for four NCAA cross-country meets. Some of my best memories from school are from the fall break training camps that we went to in northern Michigan. We’d go up there, run a ton of miles on dirt roads, and then spend the rest of the day playing cards and fishing. Last year we all bought airsoft guns and had a huge battle in the forest which fun. The track seasons were always great because we were usually in the hunt for the team title at Big East conference meets. I think the guys won four or five titles while I was there, and by the end of my career, the girls were also winning titles, so there was a little competition between genders as well.

CK: Which gender prevailed in the end?

JR: If you ask any of the guys, they’d say we were the better team, and same goes for the women. We were a group of highly competitive athletes. Neither of us would ever admit to being the inferior team ha-ha.

CK: Airsoft guns at the track would be good for a sharpening-lactic workout!

JR: Coach wasn’t really a huge fan of the airsoft battles because he thought it’d tire us out. He was also a bit annoyed because a few “stray” bullets kept hitting the side of his cabin and windows. He didn’t complain about it at the time, but definitely took it out on us in the workout the next day.

CK: Was it subterfuge, remaining quiet then giving you a tough workout the next day? Were you shooting paintballs or pellets?

JR: Exactly. Something like he was supposed to give us two minutes rest between 800’s, but after one minute he had us back on the line. And definitely pellets. We thought about paintball but that’s way more expensive, and we were all broke college athletes, so we stuck to airsoft.

CK: What sort of fish were you catching? Were you fly-fishing?

JR: To be honest, we never really caught much. We’d see some huge salmon swimming down the river, but it was after they had swam upstream to spawn, so most of them were dying and not interested in our lures.

CK: So you wouldn’t qualify to carry Nick Symmonds’ tackle box up the river?

JR: Symmonds is definitely on another level. I’ve also never fly fished before, so he’d think I’m a total amateur (not far from the truth).

CK: You said that when you went to Michigan for fall training camp, you ran a ton of miles on dirt roads. How much mileage took place?

JR: It kind of depended on the year, but usually mileage for that week was around 80-90 miles. Fall break was the week between Wisconsin invite and the conference meet, so we couldn’t really do anything crazy. It was mostly just easy running with one big 3-mile time trial in the middle of it (followed by some 800’s).

CK: Will you continue to compete in middle distances now that you are with Speed River Track Club?

JR: The plan is to continue focusing on the 1500m and mile for the foreseeable future. The next two years are super important with Pan-Ams, Worlds, and then the Olympics in 2016, so my dreams of running a fast 5k will be put on hold for a while.

CK: Did you get a chance to watch the mile race that Nick Willis put together? Do you think the mile will make resurgence?

JR: I’ve watched the video from the last two Willis miles and I’ve been really impressed. I wanted to do it last summer, but after FISU I decided to call it a season. This year, I had it on the calendar, but after I spent five days in the hospital in July, I gave up on that too. I’m really hoping I can run in it next year. I think the mile is plenty popular in the US, and even saw more European meets running it this year. In my opinion though, the mile is an indoor race, while 15 is an outdoor one.

CK: Do you hope to be a full-time athlete going-forward or are you going to pursue a career with your Political Science degree?

JR: My plan is to focus entirely on running for the next two years. If I have some success, then I’ll consider running beyond 2016. If not, I’ll move on with life and find another job. I’d love to one day coach track at either the high school or collegiate level, and maybe get into teaching as well. So, the short answer to your question is no, I don’t plan on running for public office anytime soon, ha-ha.

CK: You came around to a definitive answer, so you are clearly not cut out for politics. So to be clear, your main goal is 1500m in the 2016 Rio Olympics and the necessary steps that it will take to get there, yes?

JR: Exactly. I feel like as long as I’m consistent with training and keep the injury bug away, I’ll have a really good shot at qualifying two summers from now. But for now, the more immediate goal is to qualify for Pan-Ams next summer. Since the games are in Toronto, it’s an opportunity to race in front of friends and family, so I’ll be gearing everything towards that.